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The Deep End (2001)
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Review Date: November 30, 2001
Director: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Writer: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Producers: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Actors:
Tilda Swinton
Goran Visnjic
Jonathan Tucker
Plot:
Not long after a mother finds out that her son is gay, she finds the dead body of her son's lover behind their house. Assuming the worst, the loving mom covers up her son's tracks, but it isn't long before folks start snooping around and a videotape of her son and gay lover doing the whoopee, lands her in the middle of a blackmailing scheme. Oh yeah, and in the meantime, she's gotta drive her kids to ballet practice, school, etc...
Critique:
For a film that doesn't really have much happening in it (action-wise), this baby sure is gripping! Actually, to say that there isn't much going on in this movie is probably the more superficial way of looking at it. This independent feature probably tensed me up more than most Hollywood thrillers of this year. It built its story up piece by piece, slowly at first, but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked into its sorted tale, one which showcased a believable mom next door, caught in over her head. And that's the thing that takes this flick to that other level. Not only does it provide for a very strong story, in terms of narrative, build-up, suspense and whatnot, but it also puts you in an environment in which you would never suspect such goings-on. And that's not only a credit to the writers, but also the actors, who all conveyed their down-home characters very believably, especially the lead actress, who basically carries the film, a lady by the name of Tilda Swinton. Take a dash of Cate Blanchett, add a smidgen of Sissy Spacek and you'll see where this convincing actress is coming from. Here's a woman with a family of her own, a murder in her backyard and a blackmailing scenario all happening to her at the same time, yet still managing to maintain her composure. Granted, she does start to show some cracks every now and then, but that's where the "fun" of the film lies. And there's more...

Yes, there's an initial "gay" angle here, but don't be scared away from that, because it really isn't of much consequence to the story (I say this because I would hate for some to brush this puppy off as a "gay movie"). The bottom line here is that there's a circumstance created under which someone believes a loved one to have killed another, and the film essentially studies the lengths to which that person is willing to go (or not go), to protect the person for whom they care so deeply. And further kudos to the filmmakers for creating another very "human" bad guy no less, in Goran Visnjic, who is initially introduced to us as a bulldog, but ultimately brushes layers of emotional granite off himself, and develops into a full-grown three-dimensional human being, to whom we can also relate. All of this happens over a period of a couple of days and you bet that I was pretty caught up in the whole thing, the whole way through. Redemption, love, blackmail, lies, family values, secrets, sexual role reversals, many themes are touched upon in this film, all of which are relevant, intriguing and well formulated into the whole. Many have brought up the name of one Alfred Hitchcock in relation to this film, and I can certainly see the correlation to his body of work.

The film sets itself up real nicely, starts tapping away at the base and at an even pace, until you're suddenly fully engulfed in a story to which you cannot truly predict an ending. Add some solid cinematography to the mix, an Oscar-worthy performance by Tilda Swinton (I was asking the same thing...who?) and a Kirk Cameron look-alike son, and you've got the makings of a solid independent thriller. You certainly don't have to be gay to watch this movie, but once done, I'm quite sure that you'll be happy with the results (yeah, yeah...I just couldn't help myself).
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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